Once their first lease was up, Nick and Sarah Engbers were ready to move into something more permanent, and admit they were frequenting the internet daily for listings.
“We were stalking Zillow every day, and I found this place at 3 p.m. on a work day and sent Nick the link and said, ‘I found our house,’” said Sarah. “I sent him photos and he loved it, and we put an offer in at 7:30 p.m. and they accepted it that night.”
“I don’t think anyone even looked at the house,” added Nick.
The 1952 home in central Sioux Falls was perfect for the couple, who are huge fans of mid-century modern. With three bedrooms, the 1,706 square-feet worked great to start a family, which they did with 7-month-old Winnie.
Sarah, a physician assistant at Avera Dermatology, and Nick, a musician and the downtown campus worship director at The Ransom Church, have created a curated collection of pieces that tell a story.
Nick has a favorite coaster from Rug & Relic. “This is my go-to,” he said. “This is like my spirit.”
THE LIVING ROOM
“They just don’t make things like they used to,” said Nick.
That’s why the couple has “slowly” decorated with a mixture of estate sales and thrift store finds mixed with newer items.
“We like bringing things back from vacation because we love the memories,” said Sarah.
Walking over to their living room fireplace with the original wooden walls, one memory is a framed train sitting front and center on the shelf from a vintage store in Asheville, N.C.
“I like trains. I love the railroad,” said Nick. “I like to collect little things. We went Europe, and the trains were awesome.”
“If we could bring trains back to America, he would be thrilled,” laughed Sarah. “He gets into something for a while, and trains were one of those phases.”
Nick also has a book obsession, and the living room built-ins are for fiction and theology.
“I like having books that I haven’t read that I can look and pull them off the shelf,” he said.
The chairs are from the 1970s and are from a range of places, like former mid-century store Modtro, and Etsy.
One item that is not vintage is their area rug from Anthropologie.
“This was one of our first purchases after we got married,” recalled Sarah. “In our other house, we pretty much had this rug and nothing else.”
Music was playing from their vintage record player, which came from MidModMen+friends in Minneapolis. A record display from Etsy works as a piece of art, while also creating a place to put the record’s case while it spins.
“In this instance, it’s Paul Simon with one of my favorite records,” he said of the current cover displayed. “That’s one of those times where I’m mad I didn’t think to create this, because it’s so simple and we paid $35 for it.”
Above the record player is a gallery wall with eclectic and intentional pieces, like a framed South Dakota feed sack and a photo of Nick’s grandfather.
“I think it’s the most badass picture ever,” he said, pointing it out. “He’s got the car, the clothesline, it’s legit. Eventually we’ll have all of the grandpas up here.”
On the far right is a narrow map that was shaped in a way that they used Framebridge to display it.
“I love the shape, and the river is probably another obsession for me,” said Nick.
Other living room highlights include a piano from Craigslist (which they reupholstered themselves), and Sarah’s great grandmother’s sewing table that they use as a console in the entryway.
“We’re both Dutch, so we got the Dutch shoes.”
DINING ROOM + KITCHEN
The living room opens to the dining room, which is quaint with a West Elm table, and the shining stars are the retro end chairs from an estate sale.
One would guess the mid-century highchair was also a thrift find, but it is a Phil & Teds chair from Target.
The “good eats” sign is from Landscape Garden Center, which the couple joked about the irony of buying a food-inspired sign from a greenhouse.
A wall shelf holds random items that Sarah says have no huge thought behind them.
“It’s hard to know what to actually pick for the shelves,” she said. “Right now we just have some dishes and things like that.”
The blue dishes are a favorite for Nick.
“The plants are all alive, but we’ll probably kill them eventually.”
“We got [the blue dishware] for our wedding, and for some reason I was super into the plates and the glasses,” he said. “I always drink out of the blue glasses, and she refuses to and has her favorite to drink from. I just love the color.”
The ceiling light was original, though they had to pull beading that was dangling from it. Other than that, the Engbers didn’t have to do too much to the home.
“We pulled all of the carpet downstairs and put in new carpet,” said Sarah. “I repainted some rooms while I was pregnant, but that was pretty much it. We have dreams of redoing the kitchen, but maybe next year.”
The Engbers have a vast collection of antique clocks. “It’s a thing you see a lot at estate sales,” said Sarah.
“We’ll read and write and I’ll play music down here,” said Nick.
There is another stocked bookshelf with business-inspired books.
“This is mostly business and self-help,” continued Nick, “but then there’s random books like a guide to trees. I also had a tree obsession for a bit.”
More records are framed, which he has had since high school.
“When I was in school I had a thing for Frank Sinatra,” he said. “I switch them out once in a while.”
The desk, which was from the former Sioux Falls store, Zing, has inspiration strewn about it, including a photo of Albert Einstein. A bottle of Templeton Rye Whiskey is there, which Nick says he appreciates as someone from Iowa and someone who dabbles in history.
“Apparently when Al Capone was doing his thing, the town of Templeton, Iowa made this during Prohibition and was shipping it around,” he said.
Other masculine touches are flannel-printed jars and a statue of a dog from Chattanooga, Tenn.
Next to the Sioux Falls Flag is a map with pins plastered on it.
Nick explained, “That map is everywhere we’ve been together.”
GO-TOS FOR ANTIQUE & VINTAGE FINDS
The thrifty Sarah Engbers gives 605 readers some of their favorite places to get unique art, furniture, and décor.
A beautifully curated vintage store in downtown Sioux Falls.
Hidden Treasures Estate Sales
There is usually one sale a month and they’re awesome (typically Thursday to Saturday). Go the first day for the best finds or the last day for the best discounts.
Multiple antique stores in Tea.
Every few months we like to make the rounds to these to see if there is anything new.
There are always unique things to find on Craigslist, but to get the good stuff you have to look often!
Loft & Craft and Home & Closet
Two cool stores in Lincoln, Nebr. with a lot of mid-century modern finds.
In the spring and summer, we love to just drive around and look for signs leading us to garage and estate sales. McKennan Park is a favorite neighborhood for good sales!
Lucky Day Sale
In Lake Norden, there is an occasional sale in a cool barn in the country. It makes for a perfect day trip on the east side of the state.
Junk Fest at the Nest
A spring and fall sale near Brandon. This has multiple vendors with a variety of unique furniture and home décor.
The Vintage Market
A fun store in downtown Beresford. It’s huge and packed with antiques and furniture. Occasionally they will open their warehouse as well if you want to buy something more rough and put the work into it yourself.
Market on 18
A vintage store and occasional indoor/outdoor flea market in Davis. Another fun day trip for their occasional events.
The carpet is a reason why the family enjoys hanging out downstairs.
“We use it a lot now with the new carpet,” said Nick. “Winnie can chill on the floor.”
With limited space, the daybed is a way guests can stay over and doubles as a couch.
The hutch was another one of the first big purchases for the couple.
“It was super cheap from a Beresford vintage shop,” said Sarah. “It was full of dust and was a place you purchase items before the owner had a chance to redo them.”
She continued with a laugh, “And we’re always looking for more storage for Nick’s books.”
This room is for non-fiction and autobiography with “a little poetry.”
“I quiz [Sarah] a lot. If she asks me to put one away I’ll say, ‘I can put it away, but if you were to put it away, where would you put it?’ I know, it’s pretty dumb,” he said.
Next to the hutch is a framed record of Nick’s band Amos Slade (he also performs solo as N.W. Engbers).
“I gave this to him after [Amos Slade] put their record out. I had it framed at Rehfelds,” said Sarah.
The brown leather couch is where they relax, and also has an entertaining story behind it.
“This couch we drove to Lincoln, Nebraska and ended up not really liking it,” continued Nick, “but we brought it back anyways because it was too late. I think it ended up working out.”
Several pieces like the lamp and chair are from the annual event Junk Fest at the Nest (see side bar).
Next to their second fireplace is a hanging banjo.
“I got a free banjo. Some guy’s daughter gave it to me,” said Nick. “Apparently when you play an instrument, people give them to you. I also have a clarinet I got from someone.”
Almost all of the couple’s mid-century lamps are from Target.
“I just love eclectic and a bunch of color. It was a little bit girly, even though I didn’t know what I was having,” said Sarah of Winnie’s room. “We started with grey and added more feminine touches once she was born.”
Nick, who kept the secret of the sex of the baby, pointed out a stuffed doe that they found for their daughter in Door County, Wisc.
“It’s a really awesome town, and we found this [stuffed animal set] and it was somewhere around $50,” explained Sarah. “My mom surprised us with one.”
They also talked about a “Winnie” sign that is above her changing table.
“A co-worker made this, which was really cool,” said Nick.
The letter board reads, “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart,” by A.A. Milne, and Sarah admits she hasn’t switched it up.
“I’ve used it for my merch table quite a few times,” laughed Nick.
Hanging from the letter board are beads on a string.
Sarah explained, “These were Winnie’s bravery beads when she was in the ICU. She got a bead for every shot or test she had to go through, so that’s a sweet memory.”
The “sad pear” art is from Fine Little Day.
As it happens, one of the last rooms the Engbers have gotten to for décor is their master bedroom.
The Anthropologie bedding was a wedding gift, and a quilt from an estate sale rests on the end.
“She loves these blankets,” said Nick. “If there is ever one of these blankets at an estate sale, we get it. As soon as I see, I think, ‘We’re probably going to grab that.’”
“I don’t know what it is, but we’re into crewel embroidery.”
They recommend Hidden Treasures Estate Sale, which they frequent during the summer months.
“With the Hidden Treasures Estate Sale, the whole house is set up and it’s really neat,” said Sarah.
Ending our tour and walking back through the dining room, Nick looked out the large windows, reflecting on why they love their abode.
“This house just really has character to it,” he said. “I love the windows. There’s so much natural light. I remember standing there when we first moved in and thinking how it felt like I was standing outside.”
For more information on Amos Slade, visit amosslade.com.